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Top Hollywood writers took to social media to express defiant support for their first union walkout in 15 years and their feelings about studios being unwilling to meet their contract demands.
The Writers Guild of America announced the work stoppage will begin Tuesday afternoon. The union also released a list of claimed responses from the studios to their proposals, which helped fire up members.
“The Shield put FX on the map,” wrote FX’s Snowfall writer-producer Sal Calleros. “Mad Men put AMC on the map. House of Cards put Netflix on the map. Writers did that. Not some CEO. Know what you get when you put CEOs in creative lanes? You get Quibi.”
“They shut down an entire industry rather than part with less than 3% of their record profits,” wrote Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost).
“Looks like it’s time to cancel my streaming services,” wrote David Simon (The Wire). “Ask the sonsabitches to explain their reply to our proposal to have minimum staffing levels for set coverage and postproduction where WGA is performed: Unpaid internships for younger writers. Seriously. Free work. That was the counter.” And when a reader snarked that Hollywood writing has gotten lousy, Simon shot back, “Eat a bag of stale, unsalted dicks, you smug little squib.”
“According to the WGA negotiating committee, the studios are pushing for a ‘day rate’ for comedy/variety writers,” wrote comedian and TV writer Sara Schaefer. “Truly horrifying. We won’t survive something like that … Absolute nightmare. What we are asking for is more than reasonable. Stay strong everyone. We are powerful as long as we stand together.”
“It’s disappointing that the studios let ego get in the way of their fiduciary duty to their shareholders,” wrote David Slack (Magnum P.I.). “Instead of a modest increase for the people who make their product, this will cost them billions — and they’re still gonna lose. … They’re not going to break this union. They’re going to wind up giving us what we need — a fair deal that makes writing for TV and movies a sustainable profession. They could’ve done it tonight. Instead, they’re going to lose billions — and still give us a deal.”
“Writers are asking for less per year than what fox paid in one defamation suit,” said Sal Gentile (Late Night With Seth Meyers). “All we want is for writing to remain a sustainable career. The studios want to turn it into a gig economy where millionaires can exploit us at will to please shareholders. … Studios are trying to undo decades of precedent about how TV works & how writers get paid by keeping viewership a secret so they don’t have to pay us commensurate with the success of the content we write for them. … The same people refusing to pay writers for the content they create for these billion dollar companies — or even offer health and pension benefits — are making, in some cases, $50 million. IN ONE YEAR. and I’m not talking about, like, jeff bezos. I mean the execs at fucking ROKU.”
“This is scary,” wrote Ashley Nicole Black (Full Frontal With Samantha Bee). “But a future where we accept what the companies are trying to do — low paid, freelancer writing gigs with no job security — is much scarier. You can’t make good art that way. And writers generate far too much profit for them to accept it. So, I’m on strike!”
“I’m disappointed and disgusted by the number of ‘rejected our proposal, refused to counter’s I’m seeing in the report on the negotiations,” wrote Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones, Rings of Power). “I naively hoped we’d be closer on this, even if we did strike. This has driven home how important it is for all of us to stand our ground.”
“Is there a more insulting response to a proposal than ‘What if, every year, we made you watch a Powerpoint about how we disagree?'” wrote Aaron Fullerton (Gossip Girl) about the WGA’s claim that studios rejected a proposal to proscribe the use of AI to write or rewrite material. “Do … do studio executives really wanna play the ‘Whose job can be replaced with AI?” game?”
Mike Royce (One Day at a Time) added about the studios rejecting AI regulation: “Hahahaha this is the same shit they tried to pull 15 years ago when we asked for jurisdiction over this crazy futuristic thing that they said it was too soon to talk about called ‘the internet.'”
“Not sure studios are digesting what happens if we tear apart the whole plane mid-flight,” wrote Emily Andras (Wynonna Earp). “Lemme give you a hint: First class, economy … doesn’t matter where you’re sitting. It all ends the same.”
“The studios truly don’t understand how their efforts to kneecap the writing profession have radicalized WGA Members,” wrote Krister Johnson (Murderville). “Do they think we’re afraid of a prolonged strike? That we’ll be begging to return to devalued and underpaid work? We’re not scared anymore. Bring it on.”
“I like my job,” wrote Chrissy Shackelford (Last Week Tonight). “I like doing it. I am so sad to strike. But whats sadder is an industry where writers are devalued, money curdles at the top & a creative’s worth is tied — not to their labor — but to the company that owns the company that owns the company’s stock price.”
“The major streamers and networks not only refused to even negotiate so many of our proposals, their total to all screenwriters amounts to an offer of $86 million per year, 48% of which is in minimums,” wrote Aaron Stewart-Ahn (The Witcher: Blood Origin). “Many of their CEOs are paying themselves around $30 million minimum per year.”
Poker Face co-showrunner Nora Zuckerman wrote a thread about the importance of striking to help up-and-coming writers. “If we strike, it’s so we can keep our [careers] and so new members can build theirs like we were lucky enough to.”
Writers Guild of America members voted last month to go on strike if no deal was reached by the time their contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Monday.
Studios point to the economic downturn, a tightening streaming subscriber market and ferocious competition as some of the pressures on their industry to rein in costs, and the WGA says studios have used the move to streaming as a way of paying writers less for the same work.
“While company profits have remained high and spending on content has grown, writers are falling behind,” the guild said in a statement. “The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels. On TV staffs, more writers are working at minimum regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks, or in mini-rooms, while showrunners are left without a writing staff to complete the season. And while series budgets have soared over the past decade, median writer-producer pay has fallen.”
The WGA is negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, which represents a collective of studios — Amazon, Apple, CBS, Disney, NBC, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery. Writers have long relied on residual fees from their work when it aired on broadcast or syndication and are seeking a contract structure that takes into account the reality that most content is now watched on streaming.
Social media adds a new element to the strike. During the last WGA walkout — which began in 2007 and lasted 100 days — Twitter had only been around for two years and Facebook for four. At the time, it was rather unusual for a Hollywood creative to bypass the press and issue statements direct to the public. Most quotes were gathered by reporters interviewing scribes on the picket lines or from the WGA and studio collective issuing press releases.
The strike will have a quick impact on late night shows and may impact and delay other shows — such as the broadcast fall TV seasons — if the standoff drags on. The two sides have not yet agreed on a time to resume negotiations.
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